Many thanks to all who participated in the September 2012 PBA poll on Work/Life Balance and sharing your insights on this topic. Your comments and suggestions appear at the end of the survey summary.

Take time to enjoy what you are working so hard for.”  ~ Work/Life Balance survey respondent

Here is what you said:

76% of respondents were female.

I am a: Response Percent
Male 24.0%
Female 76.0%

More than half (62.8%) of respondents were 40 or older.

My age group is: Response Percent
Under 21 2.0%
21-29 11.8%
30-39 23.5%
40-49 21.6%
50-64 35.3%
65 and over 5.9%

Most respondents live in the US.

Where do you live? Response Percent
USA 96.1%
Canada 3.9

Most respondents (66%) have a few stressful days but are mostly happy and satisfied. However, 18% indicate they are unhappy and want to improve work/life balance, or out of control and need help.

How happy and satisfied are you with your work/life balance? Response Percent
I enjoy a happy balance in work and life 10.0%
I have stressful days, but I am mostly happy and satisfied 66.0%
My bad days and good days are about equal 6.0%
I’m not happy and seeking ways to improve my work/life balance 16.0%
Things are out of control – help! 2.0%

Almost a quarter (22%) of respondents indicate that balancing work/life demands was extremely stressful, correlating to the previous answer indicating dissatisfaction and a need to improve work/life balance. The majority of respondents (42%) stated that it was “mostly okay with a few stressful moments.”

How stressful is it for you to balance the demands of your work and personal life? Response Percent
Extremely stressful 22.0%
Somewhat stressful 32.0%
Mostly okay with a few stressful moments 42.0%
Not stressful – bring it on! 4.0%

The top three answers cited most frequently as sources of stress or challenge in balancing work/personal life were money/resources (49%), long work hours (45.1%) and personal ambition (44%).

Rate the following on the level of stress or challenge each presents in balancing work/personal life: Often Sometimes Rarely Never
Caregiving: i.e., children, parents 21.6% 47.1% 11.8% 19.6%
Family demands 20.4% 57.1% 22.4% 0.0%
Employer demands: actual or company culture 32.0% 42.0% 16.0% 10.0%
Technology demands: text, phone, email, social media 33.3% 31.4% 29.4% 5.9%
Long work hours 45.1% 35.3% 17.6% 2.0%
Obsessing/thinking about work 39.2% 45.1% 15.7% 0.0%
Personal ambition 44.0% 34.0% 18.0% 4.0%
Money/resources 49.0% 27.5% 21.6% 2.0%
Health issues/concerns 35.3% 25.5% 33.3% 5.9%
Daily living: tasks, traffic, shopping, cleaning 27.5% 43.1% 23.5% 5.9%
Mental/physical exhaustion 30.6% 42.9% 22.4% 4.1%

The last question invited respondents to share their general comments and suggestions on achieving work/life balance:

I have learned to say no to things when I am over extended. I no longer do family hair on my free time and have cut back my hours behind the chair. I barter massage services for haircolor to enable myself to have a monthly massage with no guilt. I have learned to delegate more and give up being so controlling and being a perfectionist it isn’t worth the health risks.

I work out every morning and then calendar all my tasks, meetings, events, etc. Keeps me on target.

I step back and think about what is important. PEOPLE. I call a friend or relative and go out to lunch one day a week.

Wake up with a positive attitude and think today will be better than yesterday!

To be honest it’s not easy. I am the owner of my salon and single parent of two and I don’t always get to balance. When I first started my business there wasn’t a balance. I spent long hours working and my children were always with me. Now that I am more established it is somewhat easier to balance things. Because I am very active in my community with work and home it keeps me busy and also further challenges for balance. The best way is to include your family demands in your work schedule as well.  Try to get everything done on your off day. Ask family and friends to help out with small tasks. Organize and create a daily agenda.

Tell myself the truth. I really am in charge of most of my stress. The questions I haven’t answered or the boundaries I haven’t set are because of my fear or unwillingness to live with the truth.There is a wonderful scripture I say a lot, in light of this it fits my life totally. “The truth will set you FREE.” Truth isn’t bad.

Regain your passion for work and life. Make an appointment with yourself for yourself whether to take a walk or meditate or read or a hot bath. Love those around you, get rid of the stinkin’ thinkin’ and find that your glass is always at least half full and it’s up to you to find whatever it takes to finish filling it up.

Take time to enjoy what you are working so hard for. I take 3 days in a row off to help rejuvenate my body and soul.

Get 8 hours sleep, take food to work so I eat better.

Plan out my week before it starts. Mentally live out tomorrow before I go to bed the way I want it to unfold. Make and keep appointments I make, no exceptions. Refuse to let anyone else make me feel guilty about choices I make with my schedule (especially with things that I cannot control). Breathe. Enjoy the journey, because that is life. “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way”- Wayne Dyer

Working out clears my head but I skip it more than I should.

I have learned the value of the word no. I also have started to cut the takers out of my life. I am more of a giving person but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want or need anything in return.

Finding time to SLEEP makes a big difference. I feel better when I make time to work out, which is rare. Drinks and venting to a good friend once a month is better than any therapist. A day at home in my pajamas is the very best!

I find setting boundaries on time management is crucial. I am a single mom raising teenagers and the need for me to present is important and incredibly demanding. Communication with my kids on what their needs are and the needs of my job. I must keep close watch on how I commit myself because time is my most precious commodity.

I don’t have children so I am not sure how I would balance that into my life, but right now I make sure to find “me time” to just relax and pamper myself. We do this all day every day for our clients, but we need to make sure we take care of ourselves.

I just try to be in the moment 100%. I try to compartmentalize knowing the lines are fragile and sometimes blurry. Sometimes I just do not answer the phone.

It all has to be 60/40 with me. My husband and kids always come first, then there’s work. When life and work gets to be too much, I go to the gym and relieve some stress there.  Best saying I’ve ever heard and hold dearly is from the movie Van Wilder… don’t take life too seriously, you’ll never get out alive.

YOGA is a great stress reliever… I forget my worries for at least an hour on a given day.

I take one to two weeks off every quarter. I took a one month sabbatical in the spring which was most refreshing.

Hmmm, well I start each day with some quiet time for MYSELF. I have found that is key for me being as I will not get a chance as the rest of the world wakes, lol.  Will read a daily inspiration, do some stretching/yoga, maybe even journal. This helps me to sort my thoughts, emotions, energy. If I am off the rest of my day and what I have to offer, others will be also. I am grateful for everything. When I feel stressed, I always am reminded how lucky I am to have so much work, to be in demand and to have a family who loves and needs me too.

I have had to change my perspective and realize that I will not be the mom at all the school events in the middle of the day, but I will be the mom who will make sure we still have a roof over our head mom. Work feels like an exciting challenge.

Having a master calendar that includes personal and professional tasks/reminders. Programming reminders in my smart phone. Scheduling weekly power meetings with key team members. Creating valuable time with my children when I am available.

I try to prioritize the things I have control of and I try not to let the things I don’t control get in the way.

We all have the same rights but I alone am responsible for what I choose….

Hiring a manager was a great relief as well as making sure I meditate on a daily basis and get exercise.

Plan ahead, and get the little stuff taken care of before they pile up.

Rest and relaxation.

When I leave work I try my hardest to leave the stresses involved with work at work!

Copious amounts of vodka and ice.

I try to make some time for myself when I can.

You need support or you’ll go insane and it helps to have someone that you appreciate helping you along the way so you don’t take it/them for granted and stress about the little things that don’t matter. Prioritize your worries, focus only on ONE thing at a time that you need to accomplish and forget about the rest. Also make sure to give daily affirmations to yourself before the rest of the family wakes so you start the day out positive! Sounds dumb but it helps sooo much!

I just try my best to be in the moment. When I am with my kids I try not to think about the demands of owning a salon. When I am with a client I focus on them and the task at hand and not my to-do list. I have learned that writing things down, and giving myself a timeline and goal also helps to relieve some stress and prioritize things.

I try my best to remain present in each moment so that when I have that precious time with my family, I am fully there to appreciate and participate. I find that when I do this, the demands of work do not seem so daunting because I have taken the time with family when I have had the chance. I set aside time specifically for family and specifically for work. Making lists keeps me organized and on-task to accomplishing my goals.

Make up your mind first as to what your priorities are and stick with them…only then will you have balance.

Haven’t quite figured it out yet… Looking forward to others’ insights.

Make time. I don’t work more than I have to and make time for my pets and partner whenever I can. It is better to give up a couple of bucks than to lose valuable time with him.

Try to plan my time in advance and build in more time when things are stressful.